July 27, 2009 Tony Morgan

My Theology of Leadership (part 4)

Leadership is less about the words or actions of the leader and more about the character of the leader.

That’s the conclusion I’ve reached after revisiting what the Bible has to say about leadership within the Church. For example, we can look at a handful of passages and come to this “job description” for leaders:

  • Encourage others. (Romans 14:19)
  • Set an example with your speech, life and faith. (I Timothy 4:12)
  • Remain pure. (I Timothy 4:12)
  • Embrace humility and gentleness. (Ephesians 4:2)
  • Promote peace and unity. (Ephesians 4:3)
  • Avoid arguments and quarreling. (I Timothy 2:24)
  • Gently instruct others. (I Timothy 2:25)
  • Maintain emotional control. (Titus 2:6)
  • Demonstrate integrity in your actions and speech. (Titus 2:7-8)
  • Live your life above reproach. (I Timothy 3:2)

It’s not the job description you would expect to see for a leadership position is it? When you think about today’s “leaders” in politics and business and even the church, these aren’t typically the attributes that first come to mind.

I guess it’s possible that leadership outside the church looks different than God intended it to look inside the church. That may explain some of the differences between the “job description” above and what we routinely see in the marketplace. Ironically, though, Jim Collins offered some research in his book Good to Great that seems to suggest business leaders would do well to model this biblical approach to leadership. Every good-to-great company Collins studied was led by what he described as a Level 5 leader. Collins wrote:

“Those who worked with or wrote about the good-to-great leaders continually used words like quiet, humble, modest, reserved, shy, gracious, mild-mannered, self-effacing, understated, did not believe his own clippings; and so forth.”

It’s interesting how similar that list is to the list above. Neither list reflects the larger-than-life leadership that we tend to expect from people in these positions.

And that, of course, challenges me to think about my own leadership. I may be gifted to lead, but my character will determine the ongoing impact of my leadership. That’s something that can’t be measured in an interview or through a personality profile or on a resume. Character is proven over a lifetime.

Do you have have the character of a leader?

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Other Posts in This Series:

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Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.
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